Thursday, December 18, 2008

Race Report: Winter Grand Prix-3000-meter Cross Country Race Magnuson Park/Sand Point

Catching up on some race reports and other random entries. This one is long overdue.

On 12/6/08 I ran my first Cross-Country race down, a 3000 meter jaunt along the promenade at Magnuson Park put on by Club Northwest

OK, short story:
Time: 15:41.0
Overall Place: 114 out of 152 runners (Yay! A 75% or 2.0, I am "average-ish" if you are generous)
Sex Change: Yup. I seem to have been listed in the F40-50 gender/age group (I contacted them a while ago as per the rules but have yet to hear back from them). 
Name Change: Yup. I really have to be better at filling out post-race cards when I am tired and cold.

The longer story:

PuddleThumper did this series last year and had a blast and since I am looking for new experiences this year I thought that is would be a neat thing to do as well. 

Busy time at the Learning Factory, stressful too as we were all waiting for the Governor's budget shoe to drop AND trying to finish out the quarter (papers, exams, class wrap-up, student conferences, tenure committees, etc..) so I hadn't done too much running the week before. I was nervous, especially as this would be my first CC race and I don't know simple things like which side do you pass. Turns out that this was really different than a trail race. 

I ran down to Magnuson as a warm-up and boy was it a pleasant morning. I had my running pack (water and a jacket) and just trotted along taking my time. There were quite a few people out on the BG trail, more than I normally see—it must have been the sun that brought them out. My legs were a bit sluggish and my stomach was kind of problematic though and the nearer to the park, and the start of the race, the more I had to go. Nerves I guess. I went.

The scene down at the waterfront was surprisingly chaotic. There were so many runners down there doing all kinds of  warming up, stretching, and socializing. I could hear the "scritch, scritch, scritch" of cross country spikes on the pavement as people trotted by doing their warm-ups. The finish chute was being set up but I could not find the start line/area. I dropped my pack off at the registration desk and wandered around looking to see if I knew anyone (as is normal for this type of thing, I didn't). A race official eventually started sending people out to the start, "Just follow the other runners down towards the start." I did and ended up in a knot of people down by the bathroom/observation tower area. The same official came down with an air horn. We thanked all the course volunteers and sponsors, the horn blew, and the Cheetahs were away in an heartbeat.  

I had decided not to run all out on this race,  I would run hard but not race hard instead and just feel my way through everything because this was my first time, I had not done any kind of real speed work since August, and I was coming into this race fairly stressed. So off I went and . . . Running on slippery grass in trail shoes is a pretty interesting experience. My shoes were slipping in a way that they don't on the trails (the pair I was wearing are fairly new and grippy) so I just ran more on my toes and that calmed things down a bit. 

Experiencing the different surfaces was pretty interesting too—grass, a little bit of concrete, more grass, really spongy wood chips through the Sub Fins, a little more concrete, the grass of Kite Hill, jumping a ditch, a little more concrete, grass, a little more concrete, grass, a bigger ditch to jump on the uphill, a little concrete, grass, and a little more concrete, and grass (repeat this twice)—all the while running between tape marked chutes and flags. The Kite Hill climb wasn't too bad and I passed a few people there before pulling away at the summit and passing more folks on the down hill. At about 4:40 into the race the leaders came through on their second lap and I marveled for a second or two at how effortlessly they were moving. Not a lot of time for reverie though as I had to contend with some uneven ground as I passed some more people. Moreover, my shorts were bunching rather uncomfortably around my right thigh. Why, I found later that there is a long vertical tear in the fabric on the inside of the leg and this caused them to rise uncomfortably. Lesson, check your shorts before racing in them. 

Now, here is a question for you you. If you look at the map and locate the fish hook at the SE corner of the course. It is a pretty tight corner and I was coming up close behind another runner as we hit the corner. I dove to the inside and passed as we turned. Is this cricket? Should I have waited or passed on the right? There were no collisions. 

And then it was time for my second loop to begin after 7:26 of running. The second loop was slower (8:22 or so) and I could tell I was getting tired (you were right PT) but I still pushed on, using Kite Hill to gain position on both the uphill and downhill. Another runner was 1 second behind me, I had passed her on the downhill, and she poured it on as we came to the finish and passed me just before the chutes. Way to finish a race! :-)

Filling out a finish card when tired and dripping with sweat is not something I recommend (it is why my finish record is garbled I'll bet) but I did so despite fogging glasses. Collected my pack and went to stretch a little bit and drink some water before trotting home. Took the most direct way home but also the hilliest, up 65th, so I could have a loop (I hate out and back courses). Just trotted though and felt pretty strong. 

I needed a nap afterwards and fell asleep on the couch listening to the Met Opera Broadast of Tristan und Isolde, a fitting end to a grand morning. 

Such a cool experience, a good 7.6 miles with some speed work thrown in. I can't wait until the next run, a two-mile road race, on 12/20/08!



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